It’s not just love that’s exciting and new on the cruise ship MSC Virtuosa. MSC Cruises announced yesterday that Rob, the humanoid, robotic bartender, is reporting for duty to pour drinks at the Virtuosa‘s Starship Club this spring (hat tip to Cruise Industry News).
Rob will be part of the futuristic integrated bar and entertainment experience offered by the Starship Club, which will also feature 3D holograms, immersive digital are and an infinity digital interactive table guests can use to explore space.
To grab a drink, guests will place their order in “vertical digital cockpits,” setting Rob to work. Rob’s articulating arms will mix and serve a range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Rob also speaks eight different languages (English, Italian, Spanish, French, German, Brazilian Portuguese, Chinese and Japanese) and can adjust according to the language a guest uses when placing an order. Rob also has an LED face to convey emotions, and presumably scowl because no one will tip a robot bartender.
Rob is not the only robo-bartender serving up drinks nowadays. Glacierfire in Iceland is a bar built around its robot bartender. In Spain, Macco Robotics‘ robot serves beer. And of course, there is the Tipsy Robot slinging drinks in Las Vegas.
What’s interesting about Rob is that MSC Cruises decided to go with a full-on humanoid robot, not just articulating arms. When your bar is called “The Starship Club,” it probably makes sense to have a bartender bot that looks like what people think of a robot. But for more high-volume locations like a nightclub, the theatrics of a smiling humanoid with articulating arms could be ditched in favor of a personality-less machine that is faster.
It also should be noted that by the time Rob debuts in April, the COVID-19 pandemic will still very much be a part of our everyday lives. As of now, the CDC recommends that all people avoid travel on cruise ships. Despite that warning, tons of people are signing up for sea vacations. Having a robot pour drinks means at least your bartender won’t get sick and won’t be a vector of transmission for other passengers.
For those who are both robot curious and brave enough to set sail, the Virtuosa will begin cruises in the Mediterranean in April before being deployed to Northern Europe in 2021.